927 Lee Road 268, Valley, AL (706) 773-9274

Behind the Scenes: Jamestown Net-Zero House

To achieve their Jamestown Net-Zero goal, homeowners Don and Dana Powers purposely chose electric appliances for the entire house, knowing it would maximize the impact from the solar PV system installed on their barn. There was one exception: the living room fireplace.The couple wanted to include this primal element for the nurturing effect it contributes to gatherings in the living room with family and friends, but they needed to make sure it was right for their lifestyle. They chose a sleek unit that operates on propane and offers the advantages of providing heat while also keeping the surfaces around the…

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Live Q&A: Scrape once, paint twice

During the Live Q&A last month, host Kevin O’Connor led Insiders on a tour of the work to date at the Brookline mid-century-modern house—beginning outside with a look at the exterior-siding finish work under the direction of professional painter Mauro Henrique. A flood of paint-related questions came in from Insiders during the session, seeking advice on shortcuts or quick and easy ways to coat a surface.Mauro’s nearly universal answer: “Do it right: Scrape any peeling paint, clean the surface, prime, and apply two top coats.” Questions describing particular challenges included: a Massachusetts Insider who asked whether soot on a painted…

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Sneak Peek: Brookline snow guard

The rubber, nearly flat roof of the Brookline mid-century-modern house suits the architectural style of the home, but Tom Silva had other concerns in mind after installing it.“After a New England snowstorm, you just might have the right conditions for a snow or ice avalanche coming off that roof,” says Tom. To address the issue, he installed pipe-style snow guards in the area of the roof near the main entrances to the home. Made of a length of metal pipe with regularly spaced brackets, the snow guards create a barricade; they’re designed to hold the snow in place so that…

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Bread Bar: An Old-Time Cocktail Bar in an 1800s Bakery in the Mountains

Bread Bar is an unlikely cocktail bar in an unlikely place: an 1800s-era bakery at the base of the Rocky Mountains, in the old mining town of Silver Plume, Colorado. We recently spotted this “fine mountainside drinking establishment” on Instagram; here’s a look at its old-time alpine style. Photography courtesy of Bread Bar, except where noted. Above: The original bakery entryway, at an angle. Photograph by Lauren DeFilippo. Above: Inside, tall windows look out at the town and let in light, even in winter. “We kept it very close to the original design,” says Sam Alviani, one of four young…

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New Orleans High School Students Build Homes to Learn Skills for Work and Life

Most teenagers spend their Saturdays sleeping in, going to the mall, or maybe doing their homework. But for these teens down in New Orleans, they roll up their sleeves and get to work building houses. Founded in 2015, unCommon Construction (uCC) is a non-profit that teaches high school students both construction and work skills. According to Aaron Frumin, the executive director of uCC, the students meet up for a few hours after school each week, and all day on Saturdays to work toward  building skills, and a new home.uCC apprentices learn leadership skills, work on a house project that the organization builds each…

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Better Home Theater

This may be the year to go for a home theater upgrade. TV makers have been pushing 3-D and curved-screen gimmicks for years, but TV tech just went through a meaningful growth spurt. For $650 you can now get a better 55-inch picture than could be had for $5,000 five years ago. And despite some lingering rivalries among competing video standards, most popular current movies are now conveniently available in the latest formats that show off bigger, brighter colors and more-detailed shadows in the latest 4K resolution (also known as “Ultra HD,” compared with 720p and 1080p “HD”). Movie night…

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